Monday,20 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1308, (18 -24 August 2016)
Monday,20 November, 2017
Issue 1308, (18 -24 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Suspects detained

The investigation into the failed assassination of former mufti Ali Gomaa is spreading its net wide, reports Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Giza security forces have arrested ten people on suspicion of involvement in the failed assassination attempt on former grand mufti Ali Gomaa. The ten, alleged to be members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, are among 1200 potential suspects identified by the police. They were arrested as Giza security forces raided several locations in the districts of Kerdassa, Nahia, Al-Haram and 6th of October City ahead of the third anniversary of the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda sit-ins in August 2013.

A security source from Giza Security Directorate said that though the suspects denied being involved in the assassination attempt, one of them “referred to an apartment in Giza’s Faisal district which was used for pre-operation planning”.

Days earlier Giza security forces arrested three suspects, one of them an Al-Azhar University student, also believed to be involved in the failed assassination attempt. The three are also accused of a host of other criminal acts, including the burning of police vehicles, illegal protests and possession of firearms, since the Brotherhood was removed from power in 2013.

Though the investigation into the assassination attempt is ongoing, the Akhbar Al-Youm weekly reported that security forces had found the perpetrators.

“Eight members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested as a result of their involvement in the attempted assassination of Gomaa,” claimed the paper. “The chief suspect, discovered hiding in the area of Al-Qanater Al-Khairiya in Al-Qaliyubiya governorate, was detained during a security raid. He confessed in detail, saying the assassins were acting on the instructions of fugitive Brotherhood leaders in Turkey.”

The paper added that Gomaa was the first name on a hit list of targets, including journalists, politicians, public figures and security officials, sent from Turkey.

The Interior Ministry has not issued an official statement confirming the report.

Two weeks ago four masked gunmen exchanged fire with Gomaa’s bodyguards as he was on his way to Al-Fadel Mosque, some 50 metres from his house, to lead Friday prayers. The cleric escaped unharmed. One of Gomaa’s bodyguards received a minor injury in the ensuing crossfire.

The Interior Ministry says gunmen were hiding in one of the gardens located between Gomaa’s house and the mosque when they opened fire. “Gomaa’s guards exchanged fire with the militants forcing them to flee,” the ministry said.

Four hours after the attack the little known militant group Hasm (Decisiveness) claimed responsibility in a statement published on its Facebook page. The group, formed just three weeks ago according to its Facebook page, said the presence of civilians in the area thwarted the attack.

Hasm claimed it had targeted Gomaa because he “is the sheikh of hypocrisy” and “a supporter of military regimes”.

The group also claimed responsibility for killing a policeman in Al-Fayoum on 17 July.

The Interior Minister last week honoured Emad Abu Hamed and Helal Rabea, Gomaa’s security guards from the General Directorate of Private Security, “in recognition to their efforts, alertness and discipline in performing their duty in maintaining the security and stability of society”.

Following the failed assassination attempt Gomaa issued a statement saying the attack was intended to distract people from celebrations to mark the first anniversary of the New Suez Canal channel. He also linked his attackers with both Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The attack is a reaction to the army’s elimination of their leader,” said Gomaa, referring to the army operation in north Sinai that killed Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis commander Abu Duaa Al-Ansari alongside 45 members of the terrorist group. “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis to Al-Qaeda and IS, they all derive from one source, the Muslim Brotherhood,” added Gomaa.

Brotherhood leaders Ahmed Rami and Mohamed Sweidan  were quoted by the Turkish Anadolu news agency and Arabi21, condemning the assassination attempt and rebuffing  accusations of Brotherhood involvement.  “Violence is not the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. We always condemn  violence as a means to solve problems,” said Sweidan.

Following the attack, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi telephoned Gomaa. During the call Al-Sisi condemned extremism and all attempts to undermine stability and intimidate moderate scholars who disseminate “the upright teachings of Islam”.

The main Sunni Islamic institution Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments both condemned the assassination attempt.

The traditional seat of Sunni Islamic learning Al-Azhar described the assassination attempt as a “villainous terrorist” attack that will not succeed in intimidating “devoted” Muslim scholars. Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in an interview with Egyptian state television that the attempt shows the cowardly nature of “groups that have lost their sanity”.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and several political parties and MPs also condemned the attack.

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